The Sherman Independent School District may stagger redistricting its school attendance zones ahead of changes to the school layout next year. Earlier this week, district officials discussed focusing on rezoning the middle school level before elementary campuses amid capacity issues.

The 2020-2021 school year will see major changes to the district with the opening of a new high school, the opening of a second middle school in the existing high school, and a transition to a three-tier school system. The upcoming school year will see the elimination of the intermediate school level with fifth grade moving to elementary schools and sixth graders joining the middle school level.

“We want to focus on this transition — focus on moving into a new high school — but we also want to focus on capacity issues at the sixth through eighth-grades and moving in before we move onto the elementary levels,” Sherman ISD Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Tyson Bennett said.

For the first year of the transition, district officials are proposing that district officials focus efforts on determining which areas are covered by each of the district’s two middle schools. Under the transition, Piner Middle School will be joined by a second, currently unnamed middle school in the current high school building.

Following this, the district plans to roll out changes to the coverage areas for each of its elementary school campuses for the 2021-2022 school year.

Between the two campuses, Sherman will have a middle-school capacity of 2,100 students with an expected usage of 1,789 students. By comparison, the district will likely have a capacity for 3,929 elementary students with a usage of 3,485. As the middle schools will have lower excess capacity over a smaller number of grades, Bennett said it should be the district priority.

“I am telling you right now that our most critical area is on the middle school level in terms of our capacity, in terms of our enrollment,” Bennett said.

With the transitions ongoing in the middle school level, district officials proposed using Dillingham Intermediate School to house the district’s fifth grade population for one year until the district can re-layout the elementary level. Bennett stressed that this would only be for one year, and Dillingham would transition to being the district’s eighth elementary school the next year.

“We will relieve pressure on Dillingham because they need the pressure relief off of them as well,” Bennett said.